One day, in 2010, after a few months spent reading every post on every nail blog I could find, I made the decision to start my own and I was up and running within a few days. I can still remember when I pressed publish on my first blog post. It was incredibly exciting but scary at the same time and now that I look back at what seemed like just another normal day, I wish I’d spent a bit more time taking it all in.
I’ve been at it for quite a while now and if I could go back and start afresh, knowing what I know now, there are definitely a few things I would do differently. That’s not to say I haven’t loved every minute spent learning how to be a better blogger. Heck, I’m still learning. Every damn day. Almost everything I know about blogging is the result of making little mistakes or exploring new ways to do things. As a blogger, my inquisitive and adventurous nature has served me well in this evolving industry where there’s always something new to learn!
I’m writing this as
a nail blogger for
nail bloggers but many of the tips can be applied to any kind of blog. Hopefully I can impart some of the knowledge I’ve picked up over the last four years so you’ll be more clued in than I was as a rookie blogger!
First thing’s first. What are you going to call your blog? Make sure it’s a name that you’ll be happy with for many years to come. Think about it for a few days before taking the plunge to make sure it sticks. If at any point you decide you want to change it, of course there’s nothing to stop you but this can be confusing to your readers and creates a lot of extra work for you.
Try to choose something original and not too similar to anything else already out there. You might want to go for a play on words, a good pun or something simple and self-explanatory. Consider making the name relevant to your niche. For example, if you’re blogging with a focus on nail polish, consider using the words ‘nail’, ‘polish, ‘lacquer’, ‘paint’ etc. in your name.
Steer clear of brand names and other trademarks as that can result in legal troubles down the road. A quick Google search should turn up any websites that might already be using the name. I’d also advise searching GoDaddy
to see if the URL matching the name you want is available to purchase. As an extra precaution, you can even search Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to see if anyone is using the name.
Once you’re set on your blog’s name, you need to decide where it’s going to live. There are a lot of blogging platforms out there but by far the most popular are Blogger
. The Nailasaurus has always been on Blogger and I’m really happy with it but I’ve used WordPress for other projects so I know a bit about both platforms.
Blogger is a Google service which is completely free to use. You can customise the look and functionality of your blog with templates and basic knowledge of HTML (thank you MySpace circa 2005!). Blogger integrates nicely with most other Google Services and I’ve always found it very easy to use.
There are two options for WordPress users – wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
WordPress.com is free to use but you’re very limited in terms of customisation. I wouldn’t recommend wordpress.com unless you’re just testing the waters before you decide whether to upgrade to wordpress.org.
With a wordpress.org
, or ‘Self-Hosted WordPress
‘ blog, you can customise anything and everything but you will have to pay a hosting service to host your blog and are likely to be more costs involved too. There’s a lot more going on in the back-end of WordPress so you need to be quite technically minded if you’re planning to customise and maintain your own WordPress blog. To get an idea of how to set up your own self-hosted WordPress blog, watch this video
The Blogger vs WordPress
debate is worthy of a 10,000 word essay so I’ll leave it at that for now. Just make sure you do some research and decide which blogging service suits you best before creating your blog.
If you’re serious about blogging, get your own domain/URL as soon as possible. I waited for two years to get mine and I was kicking myself for not doing it sooner when I found out how cheap and easy it was. It adds an instant professional finish to your blog and doesn’t cost much at all. I pay less than £10/year for mine.
If you decide to use wordpress.org, you’ll need your own domain but with some other platforms it’s optional. I always buy domains through GoDaddy
and it’s easy enough to get them set up. There’s nearly always official documentation to guide you through the steps…
Look and Feel
Looks count when it comes to blogging. A lot of it comes down to personal taste but I think it’s vital that your blog is easy to read, easy to navigate and looks nice.
Whichever platform you decide to use, there will be a (limited) selection of templates to choose from which you may be able to customise to an extent. If you want something a little more fancy, you will probably have to purchase a template. Whether you want to invest in your blog straight off the bat or wait a little while for things to pick up, there are loads of placed to find really good looking templates that are more modern and trendy than the ones you’ll get from your platform. Some of my favourite places to browse for templates are Designer Blogs
, Blog Milk
. You can also find lots of great templates on Etsy
Decorative fonts can look great when used sparingly on a blog but it’s always easier to read online content when it’s in a clean font that we’re all used to reading. Make sure the body of your blog posts displays in something like Arial, Helvetica or Georgia. It’s good to have a different font for your blog header and post titles to add emphasis.
If you have a lot of different pages on your blog (Contact, FAQ etc.), make it easy for your readers to find their way around by adding a navigation bar near the top of the page. That’s the first place people will look when they want to find information about you and your blog.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend thousands on photographic equipment to make your nail blog a success. A decent ‘point and shoot’ camera is just as good as a DSLR for shooting nail pics and nowadays, many people even upgrade their phone camera using lens attachments
to get good quality pictures.
I use a very standard desk lamp
as lighting for my nail pictures and have done for a very long time now. If you live somewhere it’s sunny all year round, take advantage and use natural light whenever you can. I live in Britain where the weather is unpredictable and it gets dark at 5pm for half of the year so I use my lamp to keep my pictures consistent.
I know OTT Lite
is popular with many nail bloggers because the bulbs give really colour accurate photos. If you do have a DSLR, you could try out a ring light
that attaches to the lens. This
is what I use to film my YouTube videos and it’s brilliant!
You’ll probably find that most of your pictures need some kind of editing whether it’s cropping, brightening or anything in between. You don’t need to be a Photoshop pro or buy expensive editing programs. PicMonkey
is a popular free online photo editing service that lets you do all the basics and you can unlock more features for a low monthly fee.
Finally, it’s always good practice to keep all the images on your blog the same width, especially if you use a lot of pictures in your blog posts. It makes the content flow and is much easier on the eyes when scrolling through a long page. You can either save all your images at the same width before uploading, or resize the size they display (smaller only) using HTML.
If you want to be a great blogger, social media comes with the territory. Not only is it a great way to network, make friends and interact with your audience, it’s one of the best ways to get your content out there in front of as many eyes as possible.
It can be tough to start from 0 but work hard and build your following organically. In know it’s difficult but try not to put too much value in the numbers while you’re still finding your feet as a blogger. Whether it’s 10 people or 100 – if your audience interacts with you regularly on your social media profiles, that’s how you know you’re doing it right!
Down the line, if and when you start working with brands, they will look at your social media presence as an indication of your online influence so get to work on it straight away. Be genuine and avoid asking people to follow you – it’s a real turnoff and quite annoying for the other person.
As well as sharing links to the content you post on your blog, make sure you offer extra value to your followers. Found a nail polish to add to your wishlist? Tell us about it! Got an amazing new haircut? Yeah, we wanna see that! Think about the kind of posts you enjoy seeing from your favourite bloggers and take inspiration from them.
When you’re getting set up, try to secure the same @name / URL on every platform if possible. This makes is easier for your readers to find you and it ties everything together nicely.
Don’t let the techy term scare you off. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ which means making your content search engine friendly so that Google and other search engines will index your content under the right ‘keywords’. Basically, Google has to figure out what content is most relevant to the things people are searching for so you need to help out if you want your content to appear in search results. When I started blogging, I was completely clueless when it came to SEO. I didn’t even know it was a thing
. If I did, I think I could’ve gotten my blog off to a bit of a better start. SEO is a very complex study so feel free to look in to it further. In the mean time, there are little things you can do to improve your search ranking.
Start by making sure you’re using post titles that describe what’s actually going on in the post, like ‘Gradient Nail Art with Sally Hansen Pacific Blue’ or ‘Cult Nails Wicked Fast Review’ and so on. You don’t have to do this for every post, but if it’s one you think people will be looking for, it’s best to get a jump on things. Also try to make sure the URL of the post matches the title (i.e. www.myblog.com/url-with-relevant-keywords). Most platforms will let you customise the URL of each post: in Blogger, this option is to the right of where you write your post and in WordPress, it’s just under where you input the post title.
Next, you need to make sure all of your images have text descriptions attached to them as many people will head straight to Google Images when they’re looking for nail pictures and swatches.
See: Creating an image with a text description in HTML
As long as you’re regularly putting out good quality content and following the basics, you’ll be okay!
Love What You Do
Above all, make sure you blog because you enjoy it. There will be some aspects of blogging that you don’t like as much as others but it’s a surprisingly immersive experience and it can truly change your life. You’ll make new friends, learn new skills and maybe one day, even build a career from your blog.
If you got this far, thank you so much for reading my essay. I ended up going in to a little more detail than I had planned but I didn’t want to skimp on the specifics.
Please keep in mind that this isn’t intended to be a definitive guide to nail blogging. Hopefully, this is a good starting point for anyone who’s new to blogging or thinking of starting a nail blog. Everyone has a different way of doing things and if there are any experienced bloggers reading with tips to share from your own time blogging, please feel free to contribute in the comments.
More useful resources:
Will Paint Nails For Food: Beginner Blogger’s Bootcamp
SEO for Idiots: The 10 Basics of Blogging Search Engine Optimization